I was vaguely aware of some wind and rain overnight. I awoke to gray skies and noted that the southeast wind was already building. I made Starbucks coffee in my press and sipped it looking out on the dark lake. I saw something making a wake in the middle of the lake and assumed it was a loon, but decided to look at it through my binoculars (Pentax 8 x 32 waterproof--new for this trip!) and was surprised to see that it was a deer. As I sipped coffee, I continued to watch the deer swim for the southern shore. It was impossible to say how long it had been swimming; but I watched it swim about half of the length of the lake--over half a mile. It emerged on the shore and disappeared into the woods. I looked carefully at the opposite shore to see if wolves were chasing it; but didn't see anything.
I cooked oatmeal in my Whelen tarp which kept the wind away from my stove. I packed up and headed back to the portage to the LISR. There was one problem. I couldn't find the portage right away. I guess it looked different under the overcast sky. An hour passed before I began to paddle up the river again--still with a steady wind in my face.
In July of 1999 I tried to paddle all the way to Little Trout Lake (LTL) in one day. I missed the portage and didn't realize it until I got to the rapids further up the river. I had to stop there because the big storm of a few days before had totally blocked the portage with huge pine trees. I went back down the river and found the portage to LTL only to discover that it was totally blocked as well. Trees two feet in diameter were piled on each other to a height well over my head. So I paddeled back up the river and camped in an unofficial spot. I was totally exhausted.
This time I have more energy. I paddle for 1:30 to the LTL portage. In spite of using the GPS I almost miss the portage. The remains of an old dock are the only clue. The coordinates I used are incorrect for some reason. But the trail appears clear and I load up for the longest portage of my route 376 rd., over a mile.
I slog through the marshy beginning of the carry and when I reach solid ground see that incredible work had to be done to clear all the trees from the trail. Sometimes it feels like I'm walking through a narrow valley walled with cut pine logs. The forest on each side of the trail is essentially flattened--most full size trees are gone. New shoots of trees are coming up; but it is strange to see so much open land. With the new openness of the forest, roots of aspens that were toppled are sending up straight shoots. An incredible race is on to see which new trees can monoplize the sunlight and grow huge. The problem for canoeists is that the trails will have to be cleared constantly for years until shade slows the grow of these shoots. The other problem is that trees left standing by the storm have blown down over the winter since they were protected from the wind by the other trees. I quickly come to an aspen that completely blocks the trail and have to unload and saw some limbs to gain enough space to shove my pack under the tree. The canoe goes over the top. Then I have to "saddle up" again.
Shot of canoe going over fallen tree. Look closely and you can see my raised portage yoke which keeps the spray cover from hitting my pack.
My rule of thumb on portages is that I can travel a little more than 10 rd. in one minute. So I estimated that this 376 rd. portage would take between 30-35 minutes. But by the time I emerged at LTL 50 minutes had passed. I had to deal with another tree blocking the trail. I tripped and fell twice. I took a break; I was wiped!
A couple of canoes were bobbing out in the lake; this was the second day of fishing season. I headed south toward the creek that emptied into Trout Lake. The wind had increased and I tried to dodge behind points of land to escape it. But mostly I just paddled into it. I rounded one point and thought I smelled cigar smoke. There was a group of two aluminum canoes fishing and smoking. I chatted and passed them and headed into the creek. Very quickly I was in Trout Lake, a lake where motors are allowed. A campsite showed the difference from where I spent the night. Large v-hulled aluminum boats were pulled up a large campsite with large dome tents. Here you can bring almost everything. You are limited not by what you can carry but by what can fit in your boat.
The McKenzie map showed several houses (cottages?) near the mouth of Pine Creek. It also showed a trail in black along the rapids. When I arrived there, there were no houses and the trail was a well-used portage. I saw several fish skeletons on the trail and when I came to the head of the rapids, about ten bald eagles flew away from several trees. As I proceeded upstream, more eagles swooped out of trees. Many of them started to soar overhead and for about thirty minutes I had several eagles in sight.
Here are remains of a bever dam on Pine Creek, much like the LISR. It has plenty of water and a few hills shape its meanders.
A skeleton of a bull moose was on the bank of Pine Creek. Only hair and bone remained; the legs had been pulled away from the body by wolves.
I really enjoyed Pine Creek--the most wildlife I'd seen anywhere. (I haven't mentioned a deer, various ducks and mergansers and a total of at least 20 eagles). About 1:30 after I entered LTL, I loaded up and started to ascend the tough, steep 260 rd. portage to Chad Lake. Nothing blocked the way but it was hard with a steep descent at the end. I paddled due east to the campsite near the Buck Lake portage. I stayed in the lee of the southern shore and arrived at the campsite 6 ¼ hours after I left Bootleg. I had covered about 13 miles. This is a very nice campsite: grassy tent site, rocky cooking area and plenty of firewood from several dead pines and spruce. It was too cloudy to enjoy the sunset from this west-facing place.
At Bootleg I had smelled some fuel but neither the stove nor the extra fuel bottle seemed to be leaking. Here at Chad a piece of chocolate tastes more like fuel than candy. I examine the fuel bottle more closely and discover the o-ring has stretched with age. Fuel is slowly leaking. From then on I carry the fuel bottle outside the pack and empty it as soon as I can. Check yours before you leave!